Three South African journalists were suspended from their network, the state-owned national South African Broadcasting Corp. (SABC), after they were told they couldn’t cover a protest of their own network, following the news that the network’s COO had banned covering protests. And this week, the SABC’s CEO saying his values were “compromised” at the network.
The three journalists with SABC — economics editor Thandeka Gqubule, executive producer Foeta Krige and senior journalist Suna Venter — were suspended June 23, related specifically to coverage of protests outside SABC. Those protests were organized by the Right2Know campaign, which was protesting a May announcement from SABC’s COO banning the network’s staff from covering any violent protests.
“The suspensions were in response to journalists disagreeing with a directive not to cover our protest outside the SABC on Monday of last week,” Right2Know’s Micah Reddy told iMediaEthics.
SABC CEO Jimi Matthews resigned June 27, saying “for many months I have compromised the values that I hold dear under the mistaken belief that I could be more effective inside the SABC than outside.” Below read his tweeted resignation.
iMediaEthics has tweeted Matthews, Krige, and Venter and sent Gquble a message via Facebook for more information about their statuses. iMediaEthics has also written to SABC for more information about its policy and the suspensions.
I have quit the SABC. pic.twitter.com/ZIwa7K5z9c
— jimi matthews (@jimimatthews) June 27, 2016
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In a May 27 report, SABC announced COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s new policy against showing “destruction of public property during protests.”
“It is regrettable that these actions are disrupting many lives and as a responsible public institution we will not assist these individuals to push their agenda that seeks media attention,” Motsoeneng is quoted as saying. The SABC statement also calls for other media outlets to ban footage of any destruction or “violent protests.”
SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told News24 in a statement that, “It is an employer-employee issue and we are handling it as such. We do not want to engage in the public space, it is not fair to them and it is not fair to us.”
The South African National Editors Forum said it was “shocked” by the journalists’ suspensions and called for their reinstatement.
The Committee to Protect Journalists issued its own statement saying it was “concerned” by the suspension. “CPJ also calls for credible investigations into reports that police assaulted journalists covering unrest,” the statement reads.
UPDATED: 6/29/2016 9:21 AM EST With response from Right2Know.